Last Builders of Empire’s sophomore album “Post War” begins like most other post-rock albums; a song of complete fluff. Every instrument dances lazily around each other, like an improv dance number. The rhythm is very loose, and the timing almost seems a bit off, but the coherence begins in the second track, ‘Quiet like a knife’.
‘Quiet like a knife’ is true, purebred post-rock. The guitars are creating dense soundscapes while the bass creates the melody and carries the tune throughout. The overall feel of the track reminds me of This Will Destroy You’s earlier work, though not as melodic. Unlike most post-rock bands thier on/off switch when it comes to ambience and walls of sounds, Last Builders of Empire smoothly trasition between the two, which makes for a much more enjoyable listening experience.
Speaking of smooth transitions, I didn’t even notice the album had moved on to ‘This Tired Wasteland’ my first time listening. The way the whole album flows from one idea to the next is a good way to sew an album together, but the lack of key change instills a feeling of being too repitious. What does change, is what the music reminds me of. It’s change from early This Will Destroy You to something like Mono. Tremolo guitars atop thrashing backing guitars is so beautifully violent, but I can’t hear Last Builders of Empire when I’m thinking Mono. As soon as that thought came to mind, they switched to yet another founding father of Post-rock, Explosions In The Sky.
‘Pyre (Where There’s Nothing Else Left)’ is a gorgeous ballad of a song, but the problem still remains; I don’t hear Last Builders of Empire, I hear Explosions in the Sky. It’s a tragedy when a band can’t sound like themselves for the beginning half of their album. Yes, they play each style with a very apparent skill and talent, but it’s not theirs.
Things do get better as the album goes on, but how many people are going to actually stick around after a song of fluff and three different copies of three different bands? I know I had a hard time getting into this album after three pieces of post-rock impressions.
There is something to be said of the other half of the album, however. They’re still a very competent band, and their sound does have a certain exotic flair to it; the very fact that they play in 3/4 time sets them apart from 90% of other post-rock bands.
Maybe the genre has just become so stereotyped that it’s getting harder and harder to avoid certain sounds, but the fact remains that you don’t hear this band until you’re already halfway into the album. To me, this screams a lack of ambition or creativity.
That’s not something I want to listen to. Do you?